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Feb, 27, 2006

Sydney FC holding breath over Yorke

Sydney FC will wrap star-signing Dwight Yorke in cotton wool when he returns from international duty on Friday in a bid to have its key player near 100 per cent for Sunday's A-League grand final against Central Coast.

Coach Pierre Littbarski, along with the rest of Sydney's squad and supporters, will hold their collective breath early on Wednesday morning when the league's most expensive player captains Trinidad and Tobago in an international friendly against Finland at Loftus Road in London.

The club will be hoping their blue-chip investment returns to Sydney on Friday unscathed from the fixture.

Yorke will re-join his teammates for the side's training session that afternoon following his 20-hour flight.

But while back in town, Littbarski admits Yorke's role in the side's final two practice runs will be minimal.

"Coming back so late, we have two days, so he will do some recovery work," Littbarski said.

"He can't do that much, just some set plays on Friday and Saturday.

"I'll just put him to bed, read him some stories and hope that he recovers," Littbarski quipped.

While conceding Yorke's absence for all-but two days of the club's grand final preparations was far from ideal, Littbarski understood the former Manchester United star's desire to play the friendly.

The club had no choice but to release Yorke as the match fell on a FIFA-sanctioned date.

"I can understand his point and I think also it's a good chance for him to (try to secure a contract) for the period after the finals (and before the World Cup)," Littbarski said.

"I think he can still handle the situation but it's not perfect."

It will be the fourth time this season Yorke has returned from international duty within 48 hours of an A-League game - with Sydney losing two and drawing one of the three previous fixtures.

In September, Littbarski upset Yorke by starting him on the bench for the round three clash with Newcastle. Yorke entered the game at halftime before sending his boss a clear message with a late goal in the disappointing 2-1 loss.

He started Sydney's dismal 5-0 loss to Melbourne in October after a pair of World Cup qualifiers.

And then cut short celebrations after guiding Trinidad to its first-ever World Cup finals in November, returning to Sydney following the playoff victory over Bahrain to come off the bench in the 0-0 draw with Perth.

Sydney striker Sasho Petrovski had little doubt Yorke would be fully fit for the grand final at Aussie Stadium.

"He gets to fly first class, I wouldn't be fatigued if I was flying first class," Petrovski said.

"He'll be very relaxed, he's done it all his life, he's a good traveller, I'm sure he'll look after himself.

"He's got a big game to play here. A big role and he'll be hoping to finish the season on a good note."

Football Federation Australia said all tickets for the decider had been sold, with a capacity 42,000 expected at Aussie Stadium.

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